Last night we had a special film event, one night only, through “Demand Film.” It’s an organization that sets up film screenings that only go ahead if enough tickets get sold by the deadline. The film was We Are Triathletes and it followed six athletes from four countries as they prep for and compete in the Challenge Roth, the world’s largest triathlon with over 5500 competitors, held every year in Roth, Germany. 2014, the year the film highlights, was the race’s 30th year.
I went with a group of people who have actually done Ironman triathlon events. I ran into a few people who I used to train with when I was doing the fittest by 50 challenge and getting ready for my Olympic distance events back in 2014. I think almost all the London, Ontario triathletes who weren’t training last night were at the movie.
In addition to following a diverse group of athletes–elite and age-group, men and women, and one para-athlete who had his legs amputated as a child, and the first Chinese competitor in –the film fills in some of the history of Ironman, including interviews with legends like Julie Moss, Kathleen McCartney, Dave Scott, and Mark Allen. It also gives great context for and history of the Challenge Roth, which really does sound like an amazing day for athletes and spectators alike.
Going in I had one worry, which is that I would find the film so inspiring that I would want to do something ridiculous like start training for longer distance triathlons (or any distance triathlons). But that didn’t happen. I did find it inspiring. It’s hard not to feel a little kick of motivation watching determined athletes train hard and hearing them talk about what draws them to the event, what race day feels like, and what it means to them to finish (let alone win).
So what happened was this. I am in total awe of anyone who has ever completed an iron distance triathlon. Whether it was the athletes in the film or the people I went to the movie with, completing a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and then running a marathon is an incredible physical achievement. Timo Bracht, who won the men’s elite category at the 2014 Challenge Roth, finished all that in under eight hours (7:56)! Mirinda Carfrae, one of the featured athletes in We Are Triathletes, won the women’s event in 8:38:53. These are incredible times. So yeah: wow.
Despite being in awe and full of admiration, I really don’t have the desire to do that type of training, which the film made clear kind of has to take over your whole life. I mean, I found Olympic distance training tough to sustain, so I can’t even imagine staying motivated to train for an event like Challenge Roth.
But what it did inspire in me is motivation for the training I’m doing now, which is my 10K training. Time is closing in on my September 8th race, where I put my summer of fairly consistent training to the test. I’m not sure if I can but I would love to get my time under 65 minutes. We’ll see.
I think documentaries like this are amazing for showing what humans can do. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do exactly the same thing, but it can inspire nonetheless. I remember how Anita used to love watching The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats Its Young:
She liked it not because she wanted to do it, but watching the people do it inspired her to want to do her things.
We Are Triathletes was like that for me (but my friend Ed now wants to do the Challenge Roth, so clearly it has a different impact on different people). Here’s the trailer:
What about you? Do sports documentaries inspire you at all? In a particular way? Not at all?
3 thoughts on ““We Are Triathletes” is an inspiring film but Tracy won’t be signing up for the Challenge Roth”
Virtually never watch sports docs. I’m a participator more than a watcher. That said, when I was preparing for the Pikes Peak mountain marathon, I watched a doc about Leadville 100 mile mountain bike race (my brother sent it to me, thinking that Colorado and extreme was enough of a similarity)and it did inspire me for the challenge I had set for myself—which seemed insurmountable and I wondered why I had taken it on! And—I’m with you, the Ironman training takes over life. I can only do sports that leave me time to read and go to movies and see friends (not only in the midst of a workout)
Every year the Banff film festival of outdoor films comes to Boston, and I try to go with friends. This year the films were less the sort of eat-raw-meat thrill rides, and more about what people were doing that connected to environmental concerns or community concerns, etc. Those were inspiring in outdoorsy environmental citizenship ways, and I wish more people saw them. I also volunteer at another film festival about cycling trips, and that one is super-inspiring, mainly making me think about training for longer-distance rides across country or in other countries. But mainly it just makes me excited to ride, which is a good thing.
I love the Banff film festival!
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